Let’s face it—it’s always flu season.

Regardless of what month it is, being a student at any school or college is always going to put you at risk of disease. Doorknobs, handrails, chairs and countless other common objects we come in contact with every day are shared between thousands upon thousands of other young adults, and not everyone stays on their hygiene-A-game.

Most of the time, tips and tricks for staying healthy during the school year don’t begin to come out until the dreaded flu season of the winter months claim the first few hundred of its victims.

It is true that with October, November, and December come thousands of strains of sometimes deadly diseases, and often these illnesses can put a serious dent in your social and academic lives. Start your hygiene habits early this year!

  1. Get Vaccinated: Make sure vaccinations are up to date before heading off to school. Crammed classrooms and communal living can put students at greater risk of contagious illnesses. In 2014, an outbreak of mumps sickened more than 150 students at the Ohio State University; the disease can be spread through coughing, sneezing, or sharing cups and utensils. It’s preventable with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. College campuses have also been the epicenter of outbreaks of meningococcal disease, a rare but serious illness that can lead to brain damage, limb amputations or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a meningococcal vaccine for teens, especially before entering college or the military
  2. Exposure: Keep your distance! If someone has a cold or the flu, give him or her space! Viruses spread through airborne transmission or personal contact. Wash your hands! Viruses can survive on doorknobs, keyboards, desks, light switches and many other objects. If you touch them and touch your nose or mouth you just exposed yourself to the germs. Wash your hands after being in a public place.
  3. Sleep: Although at college a late-night party with friends or the occasional all-nighter to cram for a mid-term is understandable, it’s best not to make it a habit. A lack of sleep can have physical and mental consequences including reduced brain function, weight loss or gain, and an increased vulnerability to sickness. Students need a good seven to 10 hours of sleep per night. During sleep, the brain converts short-term memories into long-term memories, which can help to retain recently learned information. People learn and remember more when they spend a smaller amount of time studying and a longer amount of time sleeping. Our bodies and minds grow while we sleep, and sleep is very important in the function of the immune system. People who get enough sleep therefore do better academically and are less likely to become ill due to these functions.

We are continually pinning new tips and facts for staying healthy this school year on Pinterest.

We’re also always here to answer your infection protection questions, tweet any questions to us @ShepardMedical.  Have a happy and healthy school year!


What is MRSA and how to protect yourself.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, more popularly known as MRSA is caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.

Most MRSA infections occur in people who’ve been in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers. When it occurs in these settings, it’s known as health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). HA-MRSA infections typically are associated with invasive procedures or devices, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing or artificial joints.

Another type of MRSA infection has occurred in the wider community — among healthy people. This form, community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), often begins as a painful skin boil. It’s spread by skin-to-skin contact. At-risk populations include groups such as high school wrestlers, child care workers and people who live in crowded conditions.


If not treated promptly and correctly MRSA can lead to serious health complications, even death. MRSA generally starts as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils or spider bites. These can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes the bacteria remain confined to the skin. But they can also burrow deep into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.

Always keep a close eye on minor skin conditions, particularly in children. If a wound becomes infected see a doctor immediately. MRSA is not something you should attempt to treat on your own, as it can worsen rapidly and can spread to other people.

Where are you most likely to get MRSA?

Because hospital and community strains of MRSA generally occur in different settings, the risk of contracting the two strains differ.

Risk factors for health care-associated MRSA

  • Being hospitalized. MRSA remains a concern in hospitals, where it can attack those most vulnerable — older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
  • Having an invasive medical device. Medical tubing — such as intravenous lines or urinary catheters — can provide a pathway for MRSA to travel into your body.
  • Residing in a long-term care facility. MRSA is prevalent in nursing homes. Carriers of MRSA have the ability to spread it, even if they’re not sick themselves.

Risk factors for community-associated MRSA

  • Participating in contact sports. MRSA can spread easily through cuts and abrasions and skin-to-skin contact.
  • Living in crowded or unsanitary conditions. Outbreaks of MRSA have occurred in military training camps, child care centers and jails.
  • Men having sex with men. Homosexual men have a higher risk of developing MRSA infections.

Tests and diagnosis

Doctors diagnose MRSA by checking a tissue sample or nasal secretions for signs of drug-resistant bacteria. The sample is sent to a lab where it’s placed in a dish of nutrients that encourage bacterial growth. But because it takes about 48 hours for the bacteria to grow, newer tests that can detect staph DNA in a matter of hours are now becoming more widely available.

Treatments and drugs

Both health care-associated and community-associated strains of MRSA still respond to certain antibiotics. In some cases, antibiotics may not be necessary. Doctors may drain a superficial abscess caused by MRSA rather than treat the infection with drugs.

How to protect yourself from MRSA

  • In the hospital, people who are infected or colonized with MRSA often are placed in isolation as a precaution to prevent the spread of MRSA. Visitors and health care workers caring for people in isolation may be required to wear protective garments and must follow strict hand hygiene procedures. Contaminated surfaces and laundry items should be properly disinfected.
  • Wash your hands. Careful hand-washing remains your best defense against germs. Scrub hands briskly for at least 15 seconds, then dry them with a disposable towel and use another towel to turn off the faucet. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer containing at least 62 percent alcohol for times when you don’t have access to soap and water.
  • Keep wounds covered. Keep cuts and abrasions clean and covered with sterile, dry bandages until they heal. The pus from infected sores may contain MRSA, and keeping wounds covered will help keep the bacteria from spreading.
  • Keep personal items personal. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, sheets, razors, clothing and athletic equipment. MRSA spreads on contaminated objects as well as through direct contact.
  • Shower after athletic games or practices. Shower immediately after each game or practice. Use soap and water. Don’t share towels.
  • Sanitize linens. If you have a cut or sore, wash towels and bed linens in a washing machine set to the hottest water setting (with added bleach, if possible) and dry them in a hot dryer. Wash gym and athletic clothes after each wearing.

With fall sports right around the corner be sure to protect yourself and see a doctor if you have cuts or scrapes that become infected. Still have questions about MRSA? Tweet us @ShepardMedical more information


Summer is flying by and colleges will soon be in session. While college presents a new world of opportunity it also presents a new world of risks. Many students live in communal living spaces, less-than-sanitary conditions and acquire irregular sleeping habits; all of which can leave students vulnerable to disease. Below we’ve gathered some of the top questions and answers about vaccination recommendations for students heading off to college this fall. If you have additional questions send us a tweet @ShepardMedical !

What are the top vaccines that college students need?
Almost every college requires or strongly recommends students be vaccinated for meningitis, especially if they plan to live in the dorms. Close quarters make it easier for bacteria to spread.

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY): Helps protect against bacterial meningitis and may be required for certain college students (requirements vary by state). First-year college students living in residence halls are recommended to be vaccinated with   meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
If they received this vaccine before their 16th birthday, they should get a booster dose before going to college for maximum protection. The risk for meningococcal disease among non-first-year college students is similar to that for the general population. However, MenACWY is safe and effective and therefore can be provided to non-first-year college students.

Seasonal flu vaccine: Protects against the three or four flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The flu can cause severe illness that may require hospital care, even in healthy adults. In general, the flu vaccine works best among young healthy adults and older children. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

Tdap vaccine: Protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, or whooping cough. A single dose of Tdap is routinely recommended for preteens and teens (preferably at age 11-12 years); however, adults 19 or older who did not receive Tdap as a preteen or teen should receive a single dose of Tdap.
Tdap is especially important for pregnant women and those in close contact with infants.  Tdap can be given no matter when Td (tetanus and diphtheria vaccine) was last received.

Will my college’s student health center provide vaccinations?
Some colleges do provide vaccinations for students but it varies greatly among schools. Students should check into whether it is provided and whether the cost is covered with their college’s health center.

What do I need to watch out for in the hours or days after vaccination?
The vaccines mentioned are remarkably safe. As always contact your doctor if experiencing unusual sickness.

I have no idea what shots I got when I was younger. What do I need to do — call my pediatrician?
Most colleges send you a health form to fill out before you go. That’s your opportunity to visit your pediatrician and talk about your immunization record. Each patient will have a different situation, and their medical records can bring them up to date.

For more information on the above vaccinations visit the CDC website directly at


Pharmacy Retailers/ Health Care Professionals:

When giving vaccinations Vytrile gloves provide premium protection for health care professionals. Vytrile is a low cost latex alternative that provides up to 3 times the strength of Vinyl gloves, allowing 0% viral penetration. A healthcare worker must change gloves between each patient encounter. Below you will find details on our Vytrile glove. Feel free to contact us to request a sample if you are interested in using our trusted CareMates products, 800-354-5683 or email us at .


Shepard Medical Products CEO, Chris Wright, is featured in this month’s Elements Magazine by PBA Health discussing how to choose the right medical gloves for your pharmacy. The entire issue is available for viewing online here:
How to Choose the Right Medical Gloves for Your Pharmacy


June 9, 2015

All gloves are created equal.

That’s the biggest misconception pharmacists have about medical gloves, according to Chris Wright, CEO of Shepard Medical Products, a company that develops infection protection products.

Instead, each material—latex, vinyl, nitrile or synthetic—offers protection for different situations.

“A pharmacist needs to know, ‘How am I going to use this product?’” Wright said. If you’re using—or selling—the wrong type of gloves for the task, you might be inadvertently putting yourself, your staff or your patients in harm’s way.

What to look for

When it comes to purchasing medical gloves, there’s one word you need to look for.

“The key word is ‘examination,’” Wright said. “If it doesn’t have ‘examination’ or ‘exam’ on the package, you really don’t want it. Often times I find pharmacies have gloves that say ‘latex gloves’ or ‘disposal gloves’ but if they don’t have the words ‘exam’ or ‘examination’ on them, it’s a product that’s not suitable for infection protection.”

Gloves labeled “examination” or “exam” are medical grade gloves. They’re vigorously tested and meet the standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “The glove has to pass the water-leak test, the elongation test, and the tensile strength test,” Wright said.

The powder problem

Powdered gloves may be easier to get on, but you should always choose powder-free gloves for your pharmacy.

Powdered gloves are usually banned in nursing homes, continued care facilities and hospitals because they increase the chance of spreading infection.

“When handling drugs in a pharmacy, those chemicals are on the surface of the glove,” Wright said. “When you take a powdered glove off, anything that’s on your hands is now in the air and you’re breathing it in.”

Types of Gloves


Vinyl gloves are low-cost and offer basic protection against infection, but keep in mind that the thinner the glove, the more likely it is to tear.
“There are all levels of quality and thickness, and vinyl gloves are at the lower end of that spectrum,” Wright said. “The thinner you go—down to about 4 mils in thickness—the more likely they are to tear.”

“If you just want to keep your hands clean from infection, then almost any exam glove will do the job,” Wright said. This includes latex gloves.

One problem with latex gloves, however, is that the material can cause allergy concerns, especially when the glove is powdered.

“When you take off a powdered latex glove, the powder and the antigens from the rubber are released into the air,” Wright said. “People can have anaphylactic shock syndrome as a result of breathing the air where rubber gloves were being used.”

Even if none of your employees are allergic to latex, patients might be, and latex allergens go into the air even with powder-free gloves.

When purchasing a latex glove to stock in your front end for first aid or wound treatment, Wright recommends looking for a latex glove that is powder-free and polymer coated.

“Vytrile is a unique synthetic,” Wright said. “It’s softer, more flexible, and has greater tactility than a vinyl glove.” Vytrile offers three times the amount of strength as vinyl gloves, too.

Vytrile is a great hypoallergenic substitute for latex. “It’s a safe alternative to latex, but closer to latex than vinyl,” Wright said. “For a very nominal difference in cost, you could choose Vytrile over vinyl and have a better product that offers complete protection from viral penetration and alcohol permeation.” Vytrile is also powder-free.

Vytrile gloves work well for general first aid use and for administering vaccinations.

For the highest level of protection, Wright recommends using nitrile gloves. “There isn’t another glove that has greater non-permeability factors to it,” he said.

The synthetic material is good for several applications in the pharmacy. “Nitrile is good for chemotherapy, home infusion, compounding, or handling drugs inside the pharmacy,” he said.

While nitrile gloves are marginally more expensive, they offer superior protection. And according to Wright, when pharmacies choose gloves based on price alone, they put themselves at risk.

“If you’re really sincere about protecting yourself, your employees and your customers from infection or from contamination from drugs, you want the best possible protection you can get, and that means you pay a little more,” he said.


The right fit

When choosing a glove, pharmacists often make a common mistake—size.

“Everybody thinks they need to be skintight,” said Chris Wright, CEO of Shepard Medical Products. “But when you’re wearing a glove all day long, you want to wear a glove that’s loose fitting.”

Exam gloves are molded with the thumb straight up. And because your thumb isn’t naturally in that position, a too-tight glove can cause pressure and tension, creating thumb fatigue.

“The second problem with tight gloves is that they tear more easily because they’re under stress,” he said. “If you touch something that’s just the least bit sharp, it will penetrate the glove more easily.”



Live in or traveling to Atlanta, Chicago or Washington DC? Be sure to protect yourself from mosquitoes! The odds of being bitten by a mosquito in these three cities are the highest in America, says pest control expert Orkin. This week Orkin put out their Top 20 Mosquito Cities and Atlanta led the list for the second year in a row.

Mosquitos can cause much more damage than just an itchy bite. Orkin’s technical services director, Harrison, states “Their bites can cause allergic reactions and spread diseases, which means families need to take precautions against mosquitoes when outdoors in their own yards and around their communities, as well as when they travel. Besides being an itchy nuisance, mosquitoes can transmit diseases, including West Nile virus and encephalitis. Chikungunya, a new virus to the United States that was first found in the Americas on an island in the Caribbean in 2013, is also spread by mosquitoes”.


Are you at risk for West Nile virus?

Almost 40,000 people in the U.S. have been reported with West Nile virus disease since 1999, and of those over 17,000 have been seriously ill and more than 1600 have died. Many more cases of illness are not reported to CDC.
Anyone living in an area where West Nile virus is present in mosquitoes can get infected. West Nile virus has been detected in all lower 48 states (not in Hawaii or Alaska) and outbreaks have occurred every summer since 1999.


How to protect yourself from West Nile Virus and other mosquito transmitted diseases:

  • No one is safe from any mosquito transmitted infectious diseases, but there are steps you can take to help prevent these diseases.
  • Apply insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors. Use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent. Permethrin sprayed on clothing provides protection through several washes. Don’t spray repellent on skin under clothing and don’t use permethrin on skin.
  • Cover up! Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants and socks while outdoors to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Avoid mosquitoes as much as possible. Limit the amount of time you spend outdoors between dusk and dawn. During these times mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus bite most frequently.
  • Support your local community mosquito control programs. Mosquito control activities are most often handled at the local level, such as through county or city government. The type of mosquito control methods used by a program depends on the time of year, the type of mosquitoes to be controlled, and the habitats where the mosquitoes live. Methods can include eliminating mosquito larval habitats, applying insecticides to kill mosquito larvae, or spraying insecticides from trucks or aircraft to kill adult mosquitoes. Your local mosquito control program can provide information about the type of products being used in your area. Check with your local health department for more information.


What insect repellent to use:

The CDC recommends a variety of safe and effective mosquito repellents. Look for these active ingredients recommended by CDC and EPA:

  •  DEET
  • Picaridin
  • IR3535
  • Plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus

Pick your favorite insect repellent and use it whenever you go outside!
Stay safe this Memorial Day weekend! If you have questions on how to protect yourself from mosquitos and infectious diseases tweet us @ShepardMedical.



With summer right around the corner Lyme Disease cases are sure to rise. Learn how to protect yourself and pets from this tick transmitted disease.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an infection that is transmitted by ticks. Ticks that have been infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi can transmit Lyme Disease to humans and pets. Ticks typically get the bacterium by biting infected animals, like deer and mice. Although most people who get tick bites do not get Lyme disease it is a disease that can be very serious if not treated promptly.  The risk for contracting the disease increases the longer the tick is attached to the body.


Where is it prevalent?

Lyme Disease can be found predominantly in the upper east coast , upper midwest, northern California and the Oregon coast. The disease is slowly spreading inland most likely due to bird and deer migration.

To determine if you could be at risk for lyme Disease you should assess whether deer ticks are active in your area. The population density and percentage of infected ticks that may transmit Lyme Disease vary greatly from one region to another. There is an even great variation from county to county within a state and from area to area within a county. For example, less than 5% of adult ticks south of Maryland are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, while up to 50% are infected in tick infested areas in the northeast. The tick infection rate in Pacific coastal states is between 2% and 4%.

The prevalence of Lyme Disease in the northeast and upper mid-west is due to the presence of large numbers of the deer tick’s preferred hosts – white-footed mice and deer – and their proximity to humans. White-footed mice serve as the principal “reservoirs of infection” on which many larval and juvenile ticks feed and become infected with the Lyme Disease spirochete. An infected tick can then transmit infection the next time it feeds on another host, such as a human or pet.


How can I protect myself from Lyme Disease?

There is currenly no vaccine for Lyme Disease. Vaccines were formerly on the market but have not been commercially available since 2002. Further studies of Lyme Disease vaccines are needed.

To best protect yourself avoid tick-infested areas. Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks attaching to the body so it is important to use tick-bite protection techniques when visiting known tick-infested areas. Using spray insect repellant containing DEET onto exposed skin can deter ticks. Wear long pants tucked into boots and long sleeves to protect the skin. Clothing, children, and pets should be examined for ticks periodically while outdoors and then thourougly once returning home. Ticks can be removed gently with tweezers and saved in a jar for later identification if needed. Once returning home bathe the skin and scalp and wash clothing.


What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?

The first symptom is usually an expanding rash (called erythema migrans, or EM, in medical terms) which is thought to occur in up to 90% of all Lyme Disease cases. An EM rash generally has the following characteristics:

  • Usually (but not always) radiates from the site of the tickbite
  • Appears either as a solid red expanding rash or blotch, or a central spot surrounded by clear skin that is in turn ringed by an expanding red rash (looks like a bull’s-eye)
  • Appears an average of 1 to 2 weeks (range = 3 to 30 days) after disease transmission
  • Has an average diameter of 5 to 6 inches
  • (range = 2 inches to 2 feet)
  • Persists for about 3 to 5 weeks
  • May or may not be warm to the touch
  • Is usually not painful or itchy

Around the time the rash appears, other symptoms such as joint pains, chills, fever, and fatigue are common. These symptoms may be brief, only to recur as a broader spectrum of symptoms as the disease progresses.

As the Lyme Disease spirochete continues spreading through the body, a number of other symptoms including severe fatigue, a stiff, aching neck, and peripheral nervous system involvement such as tingling or numbness in the extremities or facial paralysis can occur.

The more severe, potentially debilitating symptoms of later-stage Lyme Disease may occur weeks, months, or, in a few cases, years after a tick bite. These can include severe headaches, painful arthritis and swelling of joints, cardiac abnormalities, and central nervous system involvement leading to mental disorders.


How is Lyme Disease treated?

Most Lyme disease is curable with antibiotics, particularly when the infection is diagnosed and treated early.  Later stages might require longer-term, intravenous antibiotics.


Be sure to protect yourself  and cover up this summer! For more information visit our Pinterest Lyme Disease board where we will be pinning Lyme Disease information all summer long at or tweet your questions to us @ShepardMedical.



The latest tuberculosis outbreak happened on April 10th in Jackson, Mississippi. Health officials report that a Peco Plant employee was diagnosed with TB, but tell us the person is not at work. They said there is not a public health risk from this case. Unlike this single outbreak, the recent outbreaks at schools in California and Kansas exposed hundreds of children and adults to a potentially fatal bacterial infection. These numerous cases that continuously pop up demonstrate that tuberculosis continues to pose a grave threat to the public’s health.

What is Tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attacks the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

How do you get Tuberculosis?

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. TB is not spread by shaking someones hand, sharing toothbrushes, sharing food or drink, or touching bed linens or toilet seats.

What are the symptoms of Tuberculosis?

A person who has tuberculosis could experience any or all of the following: a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, weakness or fatigue, coughing up blood or sputum, weight loss, loss of appetite, chills, fever and night sweats.

How do I protect myself from Tuberculosis?

Inhaling TB bacteria does not immediately lead to serious illness. The human immune system usually surrounds and seals off the invading germs, preventing them from attacking the rest of the body. An infected person can host TB like this for years or even decades, exhibiting no outward symptoms.

If you test positive for latent TB infection, your doctor may advise you to take medications to reduce your risk of developing active tuberculosis. The only type of tuberculosis that is contagious is the active variety, when it affects the lungs. So if you can prevent your latent tuberculosis from becoming active, you won’t transmit tuberculosis to anyone else.

Protect your family and friends:

If you have active TB, keep your germs to yourself. It generally takes a few weeks of treatment with TB medications before you’re not contagious anymore. Follow these tips to help keep your friends and family from getting sick:

  • Stay home. Don’t go to work or school or sleep in a room with other people during the first few weeks of treatment for active tuberculosis.
  • Ventilate the room. Tuberculosis germs spread more easily in small closed spaces where air doesn’t move. If it’s not too cold outdoors, open the windows and use a fan to blow indoor air outside.
  • Cover your mouth. Use a tissue to cover your mouth anytime you laugh, sneeze or cough. Put the dirty tissue in a bag, seal it and throw it away.
  • Wear a mask. Wearing a surgical mask when you’re around other people during the first three weeks of treatment may help lessen the risk of transmission.

Finish your entire course of medication

This is the most important step you can take to protect yourself and others from tuberculosis. When you stop treatment early or skip doses, TB bacteria have a chance to develop mutations that allow them to survive the most potent TB drugs. The resulting drug-resistant strains are much more deadly and difficult to treat.


In countries where tuberculosis is more common, infants often are vaccinated with bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine because it can prevent severe tuberculosis in children. The BCG vaccine isn’t recommended for general use in the United States because it isn’t very effective in adults. Dozens of new TB vaccines are in various stages of development and testing.

In 2014, there were slightly more than 9,400 TB cases in the United States, a rate of three cases per 100,000 people. That’s about 2 percent lower than the TB rate in 2013, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, “This decline in the rate of TB was the smallest decrease in more than a decade and suggests the need for ongoing evaluation of TB elimination strategies overall and within high-risk populations,” the CDC researchers wrote.

According to the CDC, tuberculosis is more common in certain groups, particularly foreign-born people, who have a TB rate 13 times higher than those born in the United States. Compared to whites, the TB rate is 29 times higher among Asians and eight times higher among blacks and Hispanics.

Despite the increased risk among certain groups of people, anyone can get TB. Exposure to the disease can occur in any location where people are in close contact with each other.

As always, stay up to date with the current health conditions and always look up travel destinations up to 4 weeks before travel to prepare.

For more information on Tuberculosis visit the CDC’s website or tweet us a question @ShepardMedical.


Keep you and your family safe from the measles and other infectious diseases by taking precautions before traveling. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you visit a doctor or nurse 4-6 weeks prior to travel. With an increase in measles outbreaks the CDC strongly recommends making sure everyone has a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) shot at least 4 weeks prior to traveling.

In the US alone from January 1 to March 29, 2015- 178 people from 17 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles. This past January, national news outlets spread word of a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in California. This breaking story was shocking to many, as measles had previously been declared eliminated in the U.S. in the year 2000. Each year, unvaccinated people get infected while in other countries and bring the disease into the US and spread it to others. Measles cases and outbreaks still occur in countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Worldwide, about 20 million people get measles each year; about 146,000 die.

“The measles outbreak raises concerns about vaccination rates across the country and how both children and adults should best protect themselves from getting measles,” said Vail Valley Medical Center’s President and CEO Doris Kirchner. “Our experts agree vaccinations are critical to community health.”

A quick Internet search will reveal that one of the reasons parents choose not to vaccinate their children is due to fears of immunizations causing autism. This stems from a 1998 British study by Andrew Wakefield that concluded there might be a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This study was later widely discredited and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license.

Wakefield’s refuted study “really hurt society” in that it allowed for misinformation to influence the general public’s perception of immunizations, downplaying the serious risks associated with not getting vaccinated.

The FACTS about Measles provided by the CDC

How is measles spread?

Measles spread easily through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. It is so contagious that anyone who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease.

What are the symptoms of measles?

  • High fever (may spike to more than 104°F)
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Rash breaks out 3-5 days after symptoms begin

How to protect yourself from the measles

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine protects against all 3 diseases. Two doses of MMR vaccine provide 97% protection against measles. People who cannot show that they were vaccinated as children and who have never had measles should be vaccinated. If you are unsure you were vaccinated as a child another dose of the MMR vaccine will not harm you.

What to keep an eye out for upon your return home

Watch your health for 3 weeks after you return from traveling, especially internationally. If you or your child gets sick with a rash and/ or fever, call your doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor that you traveled and where, and if you have received the MMR vaccine.

For more information on the measles and other infectious diseases, along with diseases that are prevenant in locations you are traveling to visit the CDCs Traveler’s Health website at .



Climate Change

Could a changing climate and changing environments have an impact on the spread of infectious diseases?  Several zoologists are saying yes!

Zoologist Daniel Brooks of the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln states the spread of infectious diseases like the West Nile Virus and Ebola could be linked to climate change.

Changes to an environment many times causes animals to migrate to places they otherwise wouldn’t have gone before.  If those animals carry diseases, they could introduce them to a new population.

“It’s not that there’s going to be one ‘Andromeda Strain’ that will wipe everybody out on the planet,” Daniel Brooks stated in a recent news release. “There are going to be a lot of localized outbreaks putting pressure on medical and veterinary health systems. It will be the death of a thousand cuts.”

“Over the last 30 years, the places we’ve been working have been heavily impacted by climate change,” Brooks stated.  “Even though I was in the tropics, I was also working with several zoologists in the Arctic, we could see something was happening. Changes in habitat mean animals are exposed to new parasites and pathogens.”

West Nile Virus is a prime example of this phenomenon, going from an acute problem in North America and escalating into a recurring problem in multiple locations around the world.

Scholars are now urged to consider that pathogens retain genetic aspects which enable them to adopt new hosts;  a claim that goes against more than 100 years of evidence suggesting that parasites don’t quickly change hosts.  Brooks said this factor allows many infectious diseases to spread to new locations despite lacking a common host .

While some diseases can’t be transmitted from animals to humans immediately, that can change over time. “Given enough exposure and time, any disease can eventually mutate into a human to human transmittable disease. History is full of such occurrences,” Dan Hahn, emergency manager of Santa Rosa County, Fla., said.  “The Black Death of 13th century Europe was caused by rats transmitting bubonic plague, but historical data suggests deaths occurred too rapidly for this to have been a bubonic epidemic, so recent archaeological evidence through DNA sampling of corpses buried around London has confirmed that it was pneumonic plague, a much faster acting killer, that wiped out large parts of the London population.  Ebola, likewise, has had its origins traced to animals in Africa.”

Climate change also promotes the spread of other insect-borne infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, according to recent studies.  In addition to animal migration and disease advancements, climate changes also cause destruction of housing and public health infrastructure through storms and floods that result in injuries and unsanitary conditions. From a global perspective, complete preparation requires strengthening the weakest links in the world where diseases can run rampant.

How to prepare

Protecting yourself from infectious diseases can sometimes be difficult, but there are precautions that can be taken to better prepare yourself.

Proper hygiene and up-to-date immunizations protect individuals from a lot of diseases. Always be aware of infectious diseases that are prevalent where you live. When traveling, always look up health threats at your destination and how to protect yourself against them. For a current list of any prevalent health concerns in any location of the world visit the Center for Disease Control and Protection website at .


Shepard Medical Products has been an industry leader in the field of Infection Protection for the medical and food industries since 1986. Throughout the company’s history, Shepard has enjoyed progressive, steady growth by providing the highest quality, infection control solutions to our customers.

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